Jim Harbaugh was asked about the possibility of wide receiver Jon Baldwin dressing for the first time since coming to the 49ers. “That’s possible, he’s doing a good job. Had a real good week of practice last week,” said Harbaugh, who used the word “precision” on six occasions to describe what the team’s struggling offense needs to work on.
Precision, sure. But they also need receivers. Kyle Williams got his chance to prove he’s better than a No. 4 wide receiver who can play a little special teams. With that opportunity Williams has done next to nothing: 9 receptions on 18 targets for just 87 yards (a fullback-like 9.7 yards per catch). Marlon Moore has one catch for six yards (the same totals A.J. Jenkins has with the Chiefs). Quinton Patton, who looked like a potential dynamo in the preseason, has been targeted once and is still without his first NFL reception.
Could the 49ers take on another player from the Cleveland Browns? From ESPN’s Adam Schefter:
Cleveland also is fielding offers for and is open to trading wide receivers Josh Gordon and Greg Little, according to a league source … At least one team has made a quality offer for Gordon while another has weighed in on Little, a source said. Cleveland will not make any trades unless the offers for Gordon and Little improve, according to the source.
Gordon, a big 22-year-old receiver who was suspended for the season’s first two games after testing positive for codeine, faces a one-year suspension if he fails another drug test. In his first game back yesterday, Gordon caught 10 passes for 147 yards and a touchdown. He was targeted 19 times, and added a 22-yard run.
Little, 24, lost his starting job to Davone Bess. So far this season Little has a Williams-like 11 catches for 78 yards.
Gordon would be a high-risk, high-reward target for the 49ers. Browns coach Rob Chudzinski stated today that the Browns have “no plan of doing that” when asked if Gordon was on the block. However, it’s not like Chudzinski let the world know that Trent Richardson was available before he was shipped to Indianapolis for a first round pick, either.
In light of Aldon Smith’s travails (he was placed on the NFI/Reserve list today and reportedly flew to a rehab facility), the 49ers might not even consider taking a chance on Gordon. But if they think Gordon’s size and talent would make him worth a look, there are a couple reasons why Gordon-to-SF makes sense. First, the 49ers and Browns seem almost interconnected, with ex-Clevelanders like Colt McCoy, Phil Dawson, Owen Marecic, Kenny Ventrone and Eric Mangini on San Francisco’s payroll. Second, the 49ers have assets the Browns might be interested in.
The 49ers will have two picks in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft if Alex Smith leads Kansas City to eight wins — the Chiefs, with three wins, will probably get there. The 49ers could pry Gordon (taken with the first overall pick of the second round in 2012) away from the Browns with one of those selections … who knows, maybe they could throw in their own second round pick from 2012, passive-aggressive Tweeter extraordinaire LaMichael James.
(When Harbaugh was asked today if James was healthy enough to play, he was noncommittal. “He’s getting back,” Harbaugh said. If James is 100%, will he be activated? “We will make that evaluation,” was all Harbaugh would say. James may have worn out his welcome in San Francisco.)
The 49ers may get Mario Manningham back at some point, but that wouldn’t be until Week 7 at the earliest and it’s impossible for anyone outside the organization to determine when the reclusive wide receiver will be ready to play. The unstated goal for Michael Crabtree’s return date is probably Dec. 8 against the Seahawks, but even if he makes it back by then he might not be anywhere near full strength … and the 49ers’ season could effectively be over by that point unless the offense turns things around.
Is giving Baldwin a shot going to make a difference for the 49ers’ passing offense, which could be without Vernon Davis for the second straight game? Probably not, or else he would’ve been in uniform by now. If the 49ers want a quick fix, they might see what the Browns want for Gordon (if they haven’t already).